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I’ve decided to do a series of blog posts pertaining to toddlers, this one is about compositions to consider when photographing toddlers. As most of your visiting my blog are probably aspiring momtographers (that’s a word, I promise), I figured you ladies wouldn’t mind some toddler tips and tricks. The first post I would recommend reading is Photographing a Toddler 101 – it gives you the basics to capturing great images of your toddler!
I wanted to reinforce that the most important thing to consider when photographing toddlers is patience. They do what they want, no matter how badly you want them to sit still and smile! Maybe that’s just not my style – I really love to have candid photos. The sit still and smile at the camera just doesn’t capture the emotion I crave. So if you stick around with me, you’ll learn more about how to photograph toddlers.
Have your heard about my new course? It’s all about how to Capture Your Everyday Life and Create Art. In this course you will learn:
-Simple compositions to use everyday
-How to use and see the light
-6 Creative Exercises to help you capture your everyday
-5+ Editing videos
-Tips on taking Self Portraits featuring your everyday
check out my 5 Tips to Getting Better Pictures of Your Infant post
what is composition
I will briefly introduce you to composition.
Composition in any type of art, is the ingredients that make up something. For music, this is the notes that make up the song. For images, this is the subjects, objects, that make up an image.
There’s a ton of different ways to use compositional elements to make your image stronger and better. I’ll go into more details about all the different types of compositions below and why you should consider using them when photographing a toddler – they definitely add to the image.
- rule of thirds
- framing (one of my favorite)
- looking down
There are even more out there, but these are my favorites for toddlers. Now that we learned a little bit more about what composition is, let’s move on to how and why you should use these compositional elements and what exactly they mean.
compositions to consider when photographing toddlers
1. rule of thirds
For this compositional tool, you have to picture your image split into 9 squares and placing your subject on one of the intersecting lines in the image. Take the image above, for example. My son is place on one of the intersecting lines. This composition is pleasing to the eye. It’s a rule that can be broken, though. Keep that in mind. Knowing the rule, using the rule, and breaking the rule are all important in composition.
You are probably already doing the rule of thirds in your photography. It’s very natural and pleasing to the eye.
I love using the rule of thirds with other composition techniques, but it’s a great starting point for capturing toddlers.
For this image, since my son isn’t centered between my fridge and my dryer, a center composition wouldn’t have looked as pleasing.
With him being frame the way he is, the rule of thirds lends a better composition. It pulls the eye right to your subject, and it doesn’t look awkward.
I also want to point out that you can add more than one subject on the different intersecting lines. For example, if there was a bird sitting on the branch, you could place the bird on the bottom right intersecting line, and then the branch on the top left intersecting line. This creates even more interest to your image!
When I take a picture, I practice with different compositions to see which one would work the best. Rule of thirds is one I use quite a lot of! However, one of my favorite ways to compose an image is ‘framing’ which we’ll talk about next!
The compositional rule of framing is exactly what it sounds like: you frame your subject with other objects in the frame. I use this technique a lot. I love it! Once you start looking for frames, you’ll see them everywhere. Trust me.
In the image above, my son is framed by not only the door, but the window, as well as the light! Yes, light can be used as ‘framing’. Frames can literally be anything and everything. You can use other people. The side of the frame, doorways, colors, the list goes on. Below my son is ‘framed’ between the door and the wall. I would also say he’s framed by light, as well.
Framing is a great way to compose images of your toddler. It adds interest to your already cute photo. It draws the viewer in. It makes the viewer linger just a little bit. Framing an object is also so easy. Doorways are great, parks have a ton of framing tools to practice with. Architecture is full of frames, too! But there’s even frames in nature. You could frame your child with branches from the tree!
Framing can also appear to be a ‘peaking’ in type of scene.
There are many many ways you can frame an object. Go try it out! You could even practice on something that doesn’t move as much as a toddler. In fact, I highly recommend practicing on stuff animals before making your way to your toddler. It’s easier to practice when the subject doesn’t move!!
This one is great. What I mean by scale, is you take an image to show just how tiny your toddler really is. Like in the image above, you can plainly see just how tiny he is against that wall (he is also framed very nicely by the paneling and bricks!).
Looking at this image you realize just how little and precious this boy is. He’s tiny! The best way to do this is to back it WAY up. (I would recommend having a helper to help in case the baby makes a run for it!).
Include the environment in your image. This would be great to do at a beach, show just how tiny they are compared to the big ocean. You could do this at the park, the carnival, showing how little they are compared to the rides. This is a great composition to use on toddlers, because they are in fact, very little.
4. looking down
Looking down on your subject is a great way to photograph them. It helps with eye contact and getting beautiful catchlights. It also makes them seem larger than they are (so basically the opposite of scale!) I love using this technique when shooting toddlers. I think it’s very flattering on them. It’s an easy one to do, too! Especially if they aren’t walking yet. Just sit them down and stand (or kneel) slightly above them. Get their attention to have some eye contact and snap away! It’s really that easy. 🙂
This is great to get that eye contact and to also get a little bit closer. Details are so important to capture!
A center composition is a good choice for when there is symmetry. In the image above, my son and husband are ‘framed’ (another composition choice!) between the hallway walls. This pulls the attention straight to the center. Center compositions are probably the easiest composition to pull off, and one you’re probably already doing. Go a step further and really concentrate on what could make a center composition more interesting.
Center composition can be good for when you want to simplify your frame. It also can be a good choice for detail shots. Using leading lines to center your subject can also help strengthen your composition.
Be deliberate when you use center composition. Don’t always have center compositions. And when you do use center compositions, be confidant in your decision!
I think faceless images are perfect for any genre of portraits! But I think it adds a level of mysteriousness to toddler images. Plus toddlers have cute everything (I wish I had cute everything) and those details deserve to be the center of attention, as well.
Faceless composition should be combined with other composition techniques. Like the rule of thirds or center composition. Faceless simply means to exclude their face.
Think taking a picture of something they picked up outside. Like a rock or a pinecone. What are they really excited about? Are they drawing with chalk? Take a picture of them from above and leave out their face, but get the chalk and their drawing in the image.
This is perfect when you’re photographing toddlers and they don’t want to be photographed. My son has had his fair share of days where he doesn’t want to be photographed or look at the camera or cooperate at all. So, instead, I give him something to do and take pictures of him doing that. And not worrying about if his face is in the frame or not.
photographing toddlers composition conclusion
In conclusion, your toddler is cute so any image you take of them is going to be adorable. But by keeping these compositions in mind while taking images of your toddler (or anything!!) it will help strengthen your photography instantly.
Photographing toddlers can be really hard. And it can be even harder to stop and think about the composition you want to you. Hopefully these simple compositions will help get you started in photographing your own toddler.
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Alyssa (sometimes going by Aly) is a hobbyist photographer who loves to teach. Her love of photography started before she ever had any kids. Now a mom of two, she loves to photograph her kids, flowers, and landscape. She specializes in capturing her everyday life. She loves to teach fellow beginner photographers how to take control of their cameras and get the images they dream about getting.